Connie Sawyer, Movie’s Oldest Working Actress, Dies at 105

Connie Sawyer, Movie’s Oldest Working Actress, Dies at 105

She appeared on dozens of tv exhibits, together with “Dynasty,” “Hawaii 5-O,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Present,” “Homicide, She Wrote,” “Seinfeld” and “Will & Grace.” Extra lately, she performed the mom of a Boston thug in hiding (James Woods) within the Showtime dramatic collection “Ray Donovan.”

“I cherished engaged on ‘Donovan’ — my son was a success man, and I actually obtained to cuss,” she instructed The Hollywood Reporter in 2015.

Sometimes forged as wry and gossipy, Ms. Sawyer appeared in three dozen movies, starting from the John Wayne western “True Grit” (1969), as a long-winded witness to a dangling, to the comedy “Dumb & Dumber” (1994), as a scooter-riding pickpocket who steals Jim Carrey’s pockets.

The daughter of Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Romania, the Colorado-born Miss Sawyer was nudged by her mom towards a present enterprise profession.

She gained a expertise contest award when she was eight, moved to New York a decade later and was nurtured by the vaudeville star Sophie Tucker after Miss Sawyer had flopped at Grossinger’s resort within the Catskills and fled the stage.

She subsequently prospered as a touring stand-up comedian in vaudeville homes and nightclubs.

Miss Sawyer debuted on Broadway in 1948 in “Hilarities,” a short-lived and largely panned selection revue starring Morey Amsterdam, by which she was billed as “Nice New Expertise.”

Her break got here in 1957, when her improvised efficiency as a tipsy society girl in “A Gap within the Head,” a Broadway comedy a few hapless hotelier in Miami Seaside, captivated an agent for Frank Sinatra. Sinatra purchased the movie rights and ordered his agent to “rent the drunk” for a 1959 adaptation directed by Frank Capra.

Ms. Sawyer reprised the position within the film, her display screen debut, showing alongside Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, Eleanor Parker and Thelma Ritter. She was the one credited member of the unique Broadway forged to seem within the movie.

“I by no means actually wished to be a star,” Miss Sawyer declared in 2012. “It’s a enterprise with me. I prefer to maintain workin’. Simply maintain me workin’ — and let me get the residuals.”

She was born Rosie Cohen on Nov. 17, 1912, in Pueblo, Colo., to Samuel Cohen and the previous Dora Inger. Although her dad and mom had come from the identical Romanian village, her mom arrived in the US first. Her father had immigrated to Colorado after Dora’s brothers agreed to pay his passage if he would marry one among their sisters.

When Rosie was 7, the household moved to Oakland, Calif., the place her father opened an army-navy retailer. Rosie took dance classes as a baby.

“My mom cherished showbiz,” Miss Sawyer instructed The Jewish Journal in 2012. “She would enter me into these newbie contests like they’ve right this moment — what do they name them? ‘Idol’? They suppose it’s new. It’s not new.”

After she graduated from highschool, a first-place end in a expertise present led to an look on the “Al Pearce and His Gang” radio program in San Francisco. (A expertise scout in New York inspired her to take a reputation that sounded much less Jewish.)

Her marriage to Marshall Schacker, a movie distributor, led to divorce. Along with her daughter Lisa, Miss Sawyer is survived by one other daughter, Julie Watkins; 4 grandchildren, together with Sam Dudley, an actor and director; and three great-grandchildren.

Miss Sawyer appeared on dozens of tv exhibits, some of the latest being Fox’s “New Lady,” with Zooey Deschanel, in 2014. Her movie credit additionally embrace “Ada” (1961), “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990) and the stoner comedy “Pineapple Specific,” by which she performed James Franco’s grandmother.

She stated she was proudest of her efficiency as a trial witness in Arthur Hiller’s “The Man within the Glass Sales space,” a 1975 movie about an Israeli war-crimes trial of a Jewish Manhattan industrialist (Maximilian Schell).

However she discovered comedy probably the most difficult, she stated.

“Comics and comediennes make good actors as a result of it’s very onerous to do comedy,” she stated. “It comes out of your intestine. It’s the unhappiness of life: When you don’t chuckle on a regular basis … you recognize what I imply?”

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